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Blue Jean's 240Z


As Thanksgiving approaches and families reunite, this past week my grandparents came into town. Despite their thorough familiarity with smart phones and technology, Netflix is still and fairly alien concept. When my grandmother discovered that she could watch every episode of Criminal Minds anytime and anywhere she wanted, she was completely sold.

The opening first scene in the very first episode of the series - even before the first line of dialogue - shows a woman searching for an orange 1972 Datsun 240Z. This would have been completely unremarkable, except that not a minute prior, my grandad and I were discussing  his orange 1972 240Z!

Datsun 240Z

In previous posts, I’ve mentioned my love for Japanese sports cars. I even shared the story of how my mom damaged that exact Z as a teenager, and how my grandad never knew who was at fault until I brought it up last summer. From my Xterra, to my grandad’s Fairlady, to my aunt’s 300ZX (there we go with the X again), Nissan has a special place in the hearts of my family.

English Eugene Nye, or “Blue Jeans” as my sister calls him, has always been the coolest grandad. Even in his 80s, he has more energy and attitude than people half his age. Motorcycles, cars, and golf are his passions; he’ll play 18 holes, then hop on his Honda Shadow and ride across the country without skipping a beat. He has owned an amazing fleet of cars over the decades, the most famous of which is a red 1932 Mercedes roadster. So when he tells me that the two greatest engines of all time are Nissan’s 2.4-liter in-line 6 and the turbocharged 2.8L I6 from the subsequent 280ZX, I take it as law.

Most people would argue that the Z is a poor-man’s E-Type. The iconic Jaguar is still one of the most beautiful and beloved cars of all time. In fact, Yoshihiko Matsuo deliberately designed the S30 Z as a Japanese competitor to the E-Type, mimicking Malcolm Sayer’s groundbreaking lines. Up until that point, the Japanese were known for producing boring econoboxes, but Matsuo understood that the only way that his country would be taken seriously in the automotive world was to build a bespoke Japanese racer.

Jaguar E-Type

Grandad actually owned an E-type for about six months, but in that time, he had a number of serious, intermittent electrical issues. He felt like the Jag spent more time in the shop than on the road, and he had been impressed with Japanese engineering during his time overseas at the end of World War II, so he decided to trade his British wheels for a new Z. According to him, it was love at first drive, and he never looked back.

Any livery that can count Paul Newman as a member of its racing legacy is deserving of real recognition. Not only did the Z pave the way for Japanese performance cars, but it helped create the market for import performance modification parts in the US. While most gearheads would probably count the Chevy small block V8, the VW air-cooled I4, or the MoPar Hemi among the greatest engines ever built, it’s the God-Z-illa that makes me feel like Speed Racer.

Wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving.

-Trey Fennell

1973 Datsun 240Z Coco #23 Grey Herringbone

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